Retailers reported a year-on-year growth in sales volumes in the first half of February, the CBI has revealed.
In its latest Distributive Trades Survey, which covers the first two weeks of February, the CBI revealed that 37 per cent of retailers saw an increase in sales volume in the year to February, with 29 per cent reporting a reduction. The resulting balance of eight per cent was the lowest figure since September 2012 and was the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth had slowed.
“We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately. But there is a glimmer of hope for retailers with the news that sales are growing, even if at a slower pace than in recent months,” said Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey panel.
“Clearly, the road to recovery remains fragile. Worries about the economy, pay freezes and the rising cost of living will mean shoppers remain cautious for the foreseeable future.”
At 40 per cent, price inflation in shops rose sharper than anticipated in the quarter, but was in line with its long-run average.
Looking ahead, retailers expect both the volume of sales and volume of orders placed upon suppliers to see little change in March from this month’s results, eight per cent and -19 per cent respectively. Sentiment about the general business situation over the next quarter remains positive and saw an improvement on the previous three months, while unemployment saw a small fall against more positive expectations.